Published on Dec 30, 2013
The more more rain and flooding, the better the chances are for seeing sinkholes!
130ft-deep SINK-HOLE opens up in sodden Derbyshire fields as forecasters warn wild, wild weather will continue for a MONTH
- Met Office says that strong winds and heavy rain are expected to continue until the end of January
- New storms will sweep across the UK this week sending the number of flooded homes to more than 2,000
- Tens of thousands of homes were without power over Christmas and 130 were connected on Sunday after five days
- Government urges power networks to cancel New Year holidays as more storms head for Britain in coming week
- Some 126 flood alerts and 8 more serious flood warnings are in place across the country, with number set to rise
- Dartford Bridge was closed for second time in a week, with south-bound drivers diverted via the east bore tunnel
By Rebecca Evans and Gerri Peev and Martin Robinson
Torrential downpours over Christmas have caused a rare sink-hole to appear in the Peak District, which is 130ft deep and growing.
Part of the Milldam lead mine near Buxton in Derbyshire caved-in overnight on Sunday and swallowed a field as terrible weather continued to plague most of Britain.
Electricity engineers visited the site yesterday to assess how to re-route cables after two poles were left standing precariously either side of the 160ft wide hole, caused when water erodes the earth underneath and causes the whole area to collapse.
Meanwhile it emerged yesterday that Britain should brace itself for an entire month of violent weather, which could cause the number of homes currently flooded more than double to 2,000 by the end of the week.
Rural idyll: With the rolling Peak District in the background, the 130ft deep and 160ft wide gash in the landscape has appeared overnight after the earth beneath it collapsed
Power problems: Engineers will examine the site for damage to cables which they may have to re-route
Trouble: The River Afton in New Cumnock, Ayrshire, broke its banks after heavy rain ovenight causing major flooding in the area and blocking a main road
Yesterday commuters suffered a miserable return to work after Christmas as bad weather again caused havoc on the roads and railways.
A number of major road routes were blocked by flooding or by fallen trees while landslips added to the problems for train travellers whose services were already disrupted by planned engineering work.
Persistent rain swept across the country yesterday and will return to drench New Year’s Eve revellers.
SINKHOLES TAKE SECONDS TO OPEN AND CAN STRETCH FOR MILES
Sinkholes are found worldwide and can be more than 2000ft deep and dozens of miles wide.
The ground beneath is normally made of easily-dissolved rocks such as limestone, carbonates and salt beds.
When groundwater flows through these rocks, it eats away at them, leaving behind subterranean holes and caverns.
When the roof of one of these caverns collapses, the land above it falls in too, often in seconds. The world’s largest is Qattara near Cairo, measuring 80km long by 120km wide.
Similar smaller holes have engulfed residential streets, often claiming lives.
Then from New Year’s Day tomorrow, storms and rain can be expected for the foreseeable future, forecasters warn. ‘There is no end in sight,’ said a Met Office spokesman.
The Environment Agency said there was a continuing risk of flooding, particularly in the south west of England, as rivers respond to heavy rainfall overnight.
For the past five days energy companies have scrambled to reconnect power to tens of thousands of homes left in the dark since Christmas Eve but bosses have admitted that their efforts were hampered by engineers being on holiday.
At its peak, more than half a million homes were left without electricity, but as of Sunday night this figure was down to 130, which are now said to be reconnected.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said he has pressed energy companies to stop staff taking new year holidays as a second week of storms looks set to derail the festive period.
‘Quite clearly some of the power companies let their customers down badly,’ he told BBC Breakfast.
‘It seems obvious at this stage that they let too many of their staff go away for the Christmas holiday, they didn’t have enough people manning the call centres and that wasn’t acceptable.’
He continued: ‘We have had bad weather overnight and we are looking to more bad weather unfortunately on New Year’s Day, New Year’s night. We made it very clear at Cobra – we do expect the power companies and we also expect those local councils that did not perform, that they have adequate staff to cater with what I am afraid may be more difficult times and more flooding.’
The minister added that he had chaired another emergency meeting to make plans for the continuing bad weather forecast for later this week.
‘I don’t want to see people left without power for days again,’ he said. ‘The Environment Agency will once again be out day and night and I have met their teams in Kent to see for myself how preparations are going.’
More disruption: After a nightmare Christmas week roads all over the UK have been blocked by floods and landslides caused by heavy rain, still making the Monday commute completely miserable for many
Danger: A vast swathe of rain has crossed the UK and now sits over the north-west and most of Scotland, which means there is a continued heightened flood risk
However, Labour’s environment spokesman criticised Mr Paterson for ‘pointing the finger’ at workers when he was ‘not been seen for days’ himself.
‘As the country faces more severe weather, households that went a week without power and suffered devastating flooding expect to see some action from ministers at long last, not attempts to pass the buck,’ Maria Eagle said.
‘Of course the energy companies must explain why it took so long to get power restored, but Owen Paterson has a nerve pointing the finger at staff being on holiday when he himself has not been seen for days.’
Energy bosses will be called before MPs to explain why so many homes were left without power for so long, it emerged yesterday.
Tim Yeo, chairman of the energy select committee, said the firms’ performance was ‘unacceptable’ and warned that they had to be ‘properly scrutinised’ by the power watchdog in future.
‘I’m very concerned about how long the network distribution companies took to restore power to thousands of customers,’ he told the Daily Telegraph. ‘The committee will call them in when the House gets back.
‘I’m already concerned that these distribution companies are not properly scrutinised by Ofgem, despite being effectively monopolies. Their performance over Christmas was unacceptable.’
Basil Scarsella, chief executive of one of the country’s biggest power distributors, UK Power Networks, said: ‘We could not have avoided the damage caused by the storm but we could have responded to it better.
‘A lot of our employees had gone away for holidays so it meant we had a level of depletion in our resources – and that caused problems with getting people’s power restored.
‘It’s difficult to justify saying the company has performed well when customers have been without power for five days, but once we had an idea of how bad it was we were able to mobilise as many engineers and office staff as possible.’
The company, which owns electricity lines and cables in London, the South-East and East of England, said it will triple payments for 48 to 60-hour outages from £27 to £75 for those affected on Christmas Day as ‘a gesture of goodwill’.
Despite being a normal working day for many, many rail and some Tube services were disrupted because of engineering work.
Picture of Britain: Dozens of flood alerts and more serious flood warnings remain in place across the country, with the majority in the west and south-west of the UK
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